Secondary menu

Hand Tool Headlines

The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

This is a collection of all the different blogs I (try to) read.  A whole bunch!  If you have any comments or suggestions feel free to use the CONTACT page to get a hold of me.  Thanks!

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.  



RWW 195 Display Shelf Part 3

The Renaissance Woodworker - 1 hour 49 min ago

This time I finish up this project. I take some time to prepare everything for finish by smooth planing all the surfaces and cleaning up any glue squeeze out, then I fire up the HVLP and spray on the finish.

I’m using General Finishes EnduroVar and my Earlex 5500 HVLP sprayer for this job. I’ve realize the more I spray on my finishes, the more I don’t want to finish any other way. It goes very quickly and I get an outstanding looking result.

Some Glamor Shots

hand made display shelf DisplayShelf Display Shelf1
Categories: Hand Tools

This Week’s Flashback – Samantha’s Lingerie Chest

Matt's Basement Workshop - 3 hours 28 min ago

Time for another installment of “look what I built…I’m amazed it hasn’t collapsed yet!” I’m half-joking as I write this, because seriously I’m amazed my first projects haven’t collapsed on themselves yet!

Last week I shared my first attempt at a project that required drawers, a big step for me at the time considering the level of extra joinery and design it required. Add to it the fact I was completely winging it with zero experience meant it was twice as hard.

This week the next project in my woodworking evolution was the next big project I built, a lingerie chest of drawers for my wife.

Samantha's lingerie tower

Samantha’s lingerie tower

As is quite obvious from the pictures, this project wasn’t about to be featured on the cover of any magazines, and I’m sure if I had a website at the time I probably would’ve had a ton of traffic from somewhere else with a link stating “Don’t let your furniture look like this!”

But in reality, this project was the first of many bigger and better to come. Why? Because it allowed me to do something I wasn’t letting myself do up to that point, build with a purpose.

What does that mean “build with a purpose?”

Simply put, up until then I just built things to build something. If they were crap, I’d just scrap them and start over. But in this case, I talked it over with Samantha and asked her what she wanted and how it should look?

The result was a project with a purpose and a client I wanted to impress!

The only tools I owned at the time were my little bench top table saw, a bench top band saw, the crappy router I had picked up for the short chest of drawers, and then I used this opportunity as an excuse to pickup a cheap random orbital sander and an even cheaper dovetail jig.

I had so few tools at the time, I didn’t even have a single chisel or a block plane. So any finessing of joinery was done entirely by means of bit, blade or sandpaper.

Like with the short chest of drawers the body and drawer fronts were built entirely of home center 1x pine, but this time, I decided to introduce a new material to my shop, plywood (construction grade plywood!)

As I did with the previous project, I built my drawer frames and routed dados into the sides, taking the extra step to hide them from the front. Since I didn’t have a chisel to square up the dados, I just rounded over the shoulders of the frames with a knife to allow them to fit properly.

Stopped dado for the drawer frame

Stopped dado for the drawer frame

Since I didn’t have access to a jointer or thickness planer at the time, there’s obvious gaps at the glue lines where I glued up two boards to make a wider panel. I can quite honestly say I didn’t wrap my brain around the idea of edges needing to be square for easily a few more projects. At the time, I just figured all I needed was to apply more clamp pressure to get everything aligned.


This project had two big step-ups for me in joinery and design aesthetics. The first is the fact I opted to skip using an overlay drawer front and go with an inset, which added an increasing level of difficulty to the build, and the second was to try my hand at dovetail joinery (because that’s what REAL woodworkers use right?)

First inset drawers First attempts at dovetails

The dovetails were complicated by two huge factors I hadn’t accounted for; 1) cutting dovetails into plywood with a router bit can cause chunks of veneer to come off in all the wrong places, and 2) I bought a really cheap and crappy dovetail jig that took longer to setup than it did for me to attempt to cut dovetails in all the drawer sides.

Construction grade plywood?!

Construction grade plywood?!

For whatever reason, I decided I could overlook the torn out chunks in the plywood from the router, but the idea someone could see the plys when the drawer was open meant I needed to apply a veneer tape to hide them. I’m not convinced this made it worse, but looking back on it, I can appreciate the effort to some degree.

Not obvious at all right?

Not obvious at all right?

The last thing I remember specifically about building the drawers was that they were originally to snug to fit in the opening. So to fix it, I broke out that new random orbit sander, loaded up a piece of 80 grit sand paper and went to town “tweaking” those sides. The result were drawers that open and close nicely, but at the cost of a lot of sanding and some numb hands.

Because there were obvious gaps at the top and bottom where I attached the top and base, I attempted to hide them by applying a trim piece. It worked for the most part, but once again my love for wood putty is quite obvious.

dresser-base trim

Obviously this project got painted, but that was my wife’s goal all along. She loved the idea of pieces like this and I was not about to stop her from possibly hiding my mistakes.

This lingerie chest of drawers has been standing tall in the corner of our bedroom for the past 15+ years. I see all the ugly joinery and cringe whenever she pulls out a drawer, but whenever I talk about building her something new she just shrugs and says something like “if you have too, but I love this one.”

Morale of the story? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or more realistically, building with a purpose early on is the best motivation for pushing us beyond on our current abilities.

Help support the show – please visit our advertisers

Learn How, Discorver Why and Build Better at Shop woodworking

Categories: Hand Tools

one pill makes you larger…

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - 3 hours 37 min ago


poor russ

Poor Russ. I have no proof that Bob Van Dyke dosed him, but there was Jefferson Airplane music playing much of the afternoon; I heard “White Rabbit” at least 3 times. When we got to the demo of me carving the central part of the design below, Russ struggled with the photograph – his eye & mind were seeing “innie” when it should be “outie” & vice-versa. 

center panel_edited-1


Here’s the same panel flipped upside-down. Sometimes the shadows being above the design make things weird. Right now, I can’t see it “wrong” – but sometimes I can. Russ couldn’t see it right at the time. Often I tell people to close their eyes, then look again. That often fixes it, but the best thing to do is put the photograph right-side up. Or like Alice, just bite from the other side of the mushroom. 

center panel_pside down



"I couldn’t afford a distortion pedal. I had to try to squeeze those sounds out of my guitar...."

Giant Cypress - 4 hours 30 min ago
“I couldn’t afford a distortion pedal. I had to try to squeeze those sounds out of my guitar. The first real work I did was in my bedroom. I added pickups, because I didn’t like the sound of the originals. I couldn’t afford a router—I didn’t even know what a router was—so I started hammering away with a screwdriver. That didn’t work at all. Chunks of wood flew off and there was sawdust flying all over the place. But I was on a mission. I knew what I wanted and I just kept at it until I finally got there.”

- Eddie Van Halen, woodworker, from an interview in Popular Mechanics.

Canvas tool roll for regular chisels

Mulesaw - 6 hours 19 min ago
There are plenty of designs to choose from when it comes to tool rolls. Some are designed in a way that will have you insert the handle of the chisel in the pocket, and others are designed to keep the blade in the pocket instead.

I suppose that each method has got its advantages and drawbacks, but I feel most comfortable with the blades being protected individually, so that was the route I went.

Most chisels can be divided into categories such as sharp/dull, rusty/clean, broad/narrow etc. for my design there are two categories that are important: long/stubby + the width of the chisels.

Looking at the chisels I have provided with a new handle, I can see that either the length of the blade is around 4” or 5.5”. I don’t want the chisels to seat all the way into their pockets, and risking that they cut a hole, so all my pockets are made a bit longer than the blades.

I am making two rows of pockets, one which is for the stubby chisels, and one which is for the longer chisels. Both rows have the same number of pockets of graduating width.
The pockets are placed a small distance from the side of the tool roll, to enable the side to fold over the handles of the chisels, thus preventing them from accidentally falling out of the roll during transport. 

Since this tool roll is likely to see a lot more action than the roll for the mortise chisels, I decided to fold over the edges of the canvas, and make a seam all around the perimeter, to prevent the fabric from fraying.  It looks nice, but it takes some time to sew it all by hand.

I have tried to make my stitches a bit longer on this tool roll, due to the amount of sewing that I have to do. There is no need to make it any harder than it has to be.

The way the pockets are going to be placed, means that I can't fit a chisel in each of them, but I can alternate between a long and a stubby chisel, or stay with one type. 
Hopefully the idea will be OK, if not - well then someone else might be able to learn from the experience.

Outer shell and the deep pocket piece.

Outer shell with pocket pieces sewn in place.

Categories: Hand Tools

bread boards are cooking......

Accidental Woodworker - 7 hours 14 min ago
I only have one more woodworking thing to do on the table and that is to attach the top to the base. I will be doing that at my daughter's apartment after I deliver it. I have awaiting me the nightmare of getting the table out of my basement first - table top and then the base - and then up 3 flights of stairs at her place. Doing it separately is a royal pain but it'll be easier (?) on me doing it that way.

first of the dark pics
I picked up where I left off yesterday. I flipped the table over because I had to trim the bottom tongue. I almost got it here and it took a few more cycles of trim and check before it closed up.

As for the pics, after posting this I checked the camera and all the dials and wheels on the top weren't set on auto. As I am completely clueless about cameras and taking pictures, I'll check this before I snap pics again. And no, I do and don't want to learn how to use my camera beyond the auto setting.

got it
This first bread board is fitted and it looks pretty good. The joint line needs to be dressed in a few spots but overall I'm pleased with the fit. I did ok for making a multiple tenon bread board for the first time.

cauls are gone
The bow is gone too. The table isn't 100% flat as there are some dips and humps but the big bow is history. The small dips and humps I can plane out. The bread board end is doing what it is supposed to do - keeping the top from bowing.

fitting the other bread board end
Like the first one, I can slip it over the tenons but the lip is too wide. When this was flipped over to do the other end, I also planed this end's lip and tenon. Now that the table is flipped over again, I just have to trim and fit the top side.

still too tight
I'm keeping my fingers crossed here that I trimmed enough off the bottom. The aim is for a snug fit that goes together with light mallet blows. By looking for shiny areas on the tenons and tongue I know where I have trim still.

almost there
I was getting a dead sound on the far end but I didn't see any shiny or bruised spots. I trimmed the tongue one more time end to end with an extra swipe on the far end.

2nd bread board done
The two spots I marked with chalk need to be shaved a bit. These two spots are high and causing a gap along the bread board and table edge.

my project blood offering
One bad thing about sharp tools is that I don't also know I've knicked myself. It is only after seeing blood on the wood that I know the deed was done.

too gappy for my liking
The other side which is the bottom, has a nice tight joint line. This side which is the up side looks like crap. Even when it was clamped there was a gap that I couldn't close. The fix - I had to flip the table over and plane the table top edge with the tenon plane. Doing that allowed this bread board to close up the joint line.

gap between the table top tongue and the bottom of the bread board groove
I knew I would have a gap here because I purposely made the groove in the bread board deeper than the tongue.

my planing bench
I wasn't taking the table top off the bench to do this. This worked but I was bent over like a troll.  I first planed the groove flat end to end. I have combo blade in the table saw and it doesn't make a flat bottom groove. After the groove was flattened I planed the top down to the depth of the tongue.

much better joint line
the under side of the above pic
drilling my dowel holes
I still have a couple of more cycles of putting the cauls on and taking them off. I need to do this whenever I take the bread boards off and put them on.

dowels are done
I give myself a scare because I forgot to glue both of the center tenons. I had already set 4 dowels but I used hide glue and I was able to pop them out. I glued the center tenon on both bread boards and reused the dowels. I am going to let this sit on the bench and cook until tomorrow.

sawed the horns off
it paid off
All the table flipping, caul clamping, trimming, and fitting, finally paid off. I ended up with a tight (visible) joint on the four corners.

final shellac coat on the base
I don't want the base to be super shiny. I do want enough shellac on the base to protect the paint and make it easier to dust and clean.

center divider
I like using these large thick fender washers for attaching the tops to a base. I made 3 holes here, two elongated ones at the ends and a single hole in the center. These washers keep the screw from sinking into the wood and it spans the slotted hole. I don't have to go anal trying to get the screw perfectly centered in the hole.

it's 1/8" thick
I got these from McMaster-Carr but I don't know the number. I usually put the shipping tag/part number in the bin I store these in but I either lost it or forgot to do it. I still have some so I don't have to look them up yet.

this is working very well
Using these rounded tops on the gluing risers is working better than I expected. My old ones would tip over at times when I pushed whatever was on top of them. With the rounded tops, it glides over them. I will have to put these on the old ones and the small ones I made too.

I quit here for the day. I stopped counting after 5 times that I had to flip the table top. I feel like crap already and I was ready to take a nap until next saturday. Instead of working in the shop in the afternoon I ran errands with my wife and we stopped to get our first ice cream of the season before heading for home.

With the woodworking done on the top, I can start on the finishing work. I'll have to flip the table twice more and that should be it. I have to flip it over to flush the bread boards on the bottom and then flip it one last time right side up.  Oops, forgot about the flipping for applying the shellac and poly finish.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What two cities were linked by the Orient Express?
answer - Paris and Istanbul

Dust Collector Project – Part 1

The Bench Blog - 7 hours 28 min ago

My next few posts are going to tackle the dust collection system for my workshop.  I have just finished building my handtool bench and have amassed a fairly comprehensive set of handtools, but have no intention of going handtool only.  I love having a good jointer and planer for stock preparation, and a bandsaw and tablesaw are great workhorses that I have no desire to part with either.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my handtools and plan to use them in as much of my joinery as I can, but electrons aren’t getting banned from my shop any time soon.  There is, of course, a setback to using these big power tools… They make a lot of dust.  Be it for health reasons, or simply to keep the shop clean, the use of large woodworking tools usually necessitates the use of a dust collection system.

My current dust collection system can only be described as less than ideal.  The equipment that I have is good, but it needs to be set up with some better organization and logical planning.  As it is now, I have to bring the tool to the dust collector.  It’s a pain wheeling the jointer over and jointing, then wheeling it out of the way and bringing the planer over to plane the other side.  I have good tools and they’re on mobile bases, but they are very heavy.  I want to get to a point where all my major tools are stationary and plumbed in to a dust collection system.

My current dust collector setup.

My current dust collector setup.

I like the idea of using a separator or cyclone to remove most of the wood particles before they enter the dust collector.  The main reason for this is that the plastic bag on the bottom of the collector is such a pain to empty.  I’m currently using a metal trashcan and a separator lid from Grizzly.  To be perfectly frank, this lid is crap! If I get any more than about 6 inches of dust in the bottom of the can, the air turbulence in the trashcan prevents it settling out.  This means the dust ends up in the collector, which is what the trashcan separator is supposed to prevent in the first place.  This should be solved by the addition of a Thien baffle.

One other thing that I don’t like about my current setup is the size of its footprint. Having the metal trashcan sitting next to the dust collector nearly doubles the floor space that it takes up and makes it awkward to move. That’s why I’ve been bringing the tools to it, instead of the other way around.  Ideally, I want the trashcan to sit underneath the dust collector.

In this series of posts, I plan to address the following steps:

  • Build a Thien baffle separator for the trashcan.
  • Disassemble the dust collector and mount it to the wall.
  • Wire the dust collector for use with a remote switch.
  • Design and build brackets for hanging PVC ducting from the shop ceiling.
  • Design and build blast gates for the ducting system.
  • Install everything and test the system.

So, here goes.  First up is the trashcan separator.  I won’t go into every single step as there are plenty of places online that have already covered the issue, but I did take some pictures along the way and thought that I would share them with you here.  Searching on YouTube for “Thien Baffle” will get you a ton of information, but if you are thinking of building one of these, your first stop online should be here, JP Thien’s Cyclone Separator.

I had plenty of left over plywood off-cuts of various types and thickness in my sheet storage rack, so I didn’t buy any wood for this project.  To start the lid, I got some of these pieces out.

The metal trashcan that I am going to adapt with a Thien baffle.

The metal trashcan that I am going to adapt with a Thien baffle.

The top of the lid consists of two pieces of plywood, one that fits just inside the top rim, and another that is slightly larger than the rim.

A piece of ¾" ply cut to fit inside the top of the can.

A piece of ¾” ply cut to fit inside the top of the can.

A piece of ½" ply cut just slightly larger than the top of the trashcan.

A piece of ½” ply cut just slightly larger than the top of the trashcan.

I glued these two pieces together, added some clamps, and left them to dry.

Glued, clamped and left overnight to dry.

Glued, clamped and left overnight to dry.

I cut a third piece of plywood to a slightly smaller radius than the others.  This is to reflect the fact that the trashcan tapers and gets narrower a towards the bottom.  Then, two thirds of the perimeter of this piece is reduced by a further 1  1/8-inch.  This piece is the actual baffle that should allow particles to settle to the bottom of the can without being sucked back up and sent on to the dust collector.

The third piece of plywood is the actual baffle.

The third piece of plywood is the actual baffle.

The third piece will be mounted about 8 inches below the lid.  I’ll do this with three long carriage bolts and three lengths of copper pipe to act as spacers.

I used a pair of dividers to space out the three bolt holes evenly.

I used a pair of dividers to space out the three bolt holes evenly.

I needed to determine the location of the bolt holes before I cut the holes for the 4″ PVC fittings. I used a pair of dividers and adjusted them until my third step brought me back to my original starting point.  One the hole locations were marked, I drilled them at the drill press and then laid out the 4-inch holes for the PVC pipe and fittings.

To cut the 4-inch holes, I made a template out of 1/2-in ply.  I cut the hole on this piece slightly under size and adjusted it on a spindle sander until a 4-inch piece of pipe fit snugly.  To cut the holes in the separator lid, I first drilled a hole, then using the jigsaw, cut it being careful to stay inside the line.  I finished it with a pattern-maker’s bit in the router, using the 1/2-inch plywood template to guide the bearing.  That left these two holes in the lid:

Adding washers and carriage bolts.

Adding washers and carriage bolts.

I added the copper pipe spacers, washers to prevent them sinking into the wood, and the PVC pipe and fittings.  I glued the pipe in place using PL375 construction adhesive purchased from Home Depot.  I like this stuff, it takes a long time to cure (about 24 hours), but is very strong when done.  I’ve even used it with masonry when building small retaining walls.  Here’s the finished separator lid:

After adding the rest of the parts.

After adding the rest of the parts.

Next, I turned my attention to mounting the dust collector to the wall.  I disassembled the dust collector and removed the steel base and wheels.   I bought some heavy duty brackets, also from Home Depot.  I would have liked to bolt these brackets directly to the wall studs, but there weren’t any in the location that I had to put them.  My solution was to bolt the brackets to a piece of sturdy 3/4-inch plywood, and then attach the plywood to the wall studs using LedgerLok lag bolts.  I had quite a few of these left over from when I used them to mount the vise hardware underneath my workbench.

I bolted heavy duty brackets to a piece of plywood and then lag bolted that plywood to the wall studs.

I bolted heavy duty brackets to a piece of plywood and then lag bolted that plywood to the wall studs.

I then made  a shelf from another piece of 3/4-inch ply and shaped it to fit.  It needed a small notch on the left side to allow my sheet good storage bin to fully swing closed.  I also notched the back of the shelf for the upright support column and cut a semi-circle out from the right side.  This will allow the trashcan separator to slide underneath the shelf and thus reduce the overall footprint of the system.

The shelf is attached to the brackets by bolts and to the backer board by screws.  I lifted the dust collector onto the shelf and marked the location of the mounting holes.  After drilling, I bolted the dust collector to the shelf.

A shelf is installed with a cut out for the trashcan.

A shelf is installed with a cut out for the trashcan.

I bought some cheap swivel casters and attached them to the bottom of the trashcan. This should make it a little easier to pull out and empty the can.

I added some swivel casters to the bottom of the trashcan.

I added some swivel casters to the bottom of the trashcan.

To attach the casters, I cut three small pieces of metal from some scrap flashing and drilled holes in them to match those in the base of the swivel casters.  These were installed on the inside of the trashcan and acted as a type of washer to improve and stiffen the connection between the casters and the metal base of the trashcan.

I used small pieces of sheet metal over the holes on the inside of the can.

I used small pieces of sheet metal over the holes on the inside of the can.

With the addition of the wheels, the trashcan fits perfectly level with the height of the shelf.

Here's how the trashcan separator fits.

Here’s how the trashcan separator fits.

To make a little more room for the PVC fittings that were to be added, I cut the plastic bag down to about 1/2 of its original size.  If the separator works as intended, I won’t be having to empty it very often in any case.

With all of the main components in place, I added some of the PVC fittings.

With the PVC ducting added.

With the PVC ducting added.

Well, this project is off to a good start, but there is still a long way to go.

In the next post, I’ll tackle wiring the system with a contactor switch so that the collector can be turned on and off remotely.

More soon.


– Jonathan White

HB Hobby Tansu #1-Part 3

Greg Merritt - By My Own Hands - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 7:56pm

A trip to the Home Depot resulted in a decent haul.  After rooting thru the stacks of #2 mystery pine, I managed to pull out one 1x12x6′ and two 1x12x4′ boards that should yield all of the timber needed for this project.  I’m not overly picky when going thru the stacks.  It’s #2 grade after all.  I typically reject any boards with knots on their edges.  Any with loose knots and any that show signs of a twist.  I learned that lesson long ago with this marginal lumber.  No matter what I did to remove twist from a board, it kept coming back.  Not good and not worth the hassle.  Anyway, here is what a drug home.


The first order of business this morning was to convert my proportional drawing into a working full-size shop drawing.  I’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth repeating.  I design with proportions to make scaling a project much easier.  For example.  Let’s say I want one of these boxes to be a specific height.  I’ll simply plug in that height and use the dividers to break that distance down to find all of the other distances.  So, suppose the required height is 15-3/4″.  The design drawing shows that the proportional height of the box is 9D (modules).  Therefore, 15.75/9=1-3/4″.  Then I would create a module key based on 1-3/4″ and then simply step of all the other distances.

For this project I’m using my usual 36mm for the module.  To start the full-size drawing I first created a module key based on 36mm.


Once the module key was established it was quick and easy to step off all of the required distances.  Well…mostly.  I had a couple of missteps as evidenced by the presence of correction fluid on my drawing.


So you can have an idea of scale.




So why do I design around 36mm?  Simply because it breaks down into the standard thickness of timber as well as the widths of chisels that I own. i.e. 6mm, 9mm, 12mm, and 18mm.  No magic involved just practicality.  I also find that any scaling of a project rarely changes the material thickness enough to warrant matching the resultant scaled thicknesses.  That’s probably clear as mud.  It’s far easier to do than to explain.  Just shoot me questions if you want to know more or need clarity.

I purchased the 6′ board so that I could fabricate the entire outer case with the grain running continuously around the box.  Starting at one end of the board I laid out the end, then the top, then the other end and finally the bottom.  I paid particular attention to the knots.  The last this you want is to try to cut joinery thru a knot.  I was able to avoid almost all of them.  The only knot that landed on a joint fell in the waste portion of a finger joint on one of the end panels.  Sometimes I get lucky.

I apologize for the lack of progress photos.  Since this is a new design I was concentrating on not screwing it up.

The next step was to surface plane and then square the ends of all the pieces on the shooting board.  The ends were made to be the exact same height and width.  The bottom and top received the same treatment.

I began the joinery with the dados in the end pieces.  Marking one end panel directly from the full-size drawing and then ganging it with the opposite end panel to transfer the marks.

Dados marked and ready to be cut.


Never hurts to double-check against the drawing.


There are multiple ways to cut a dado joint.  The end result is all that matters not how you got there.  For the record, I knifed, then chopped, then pared and finally leveled the bottoms with a router plane.

The top is joined to the sides with a 5-part finger joint.  For this I simply used a pair of dividers and trial and error until I had them set to exactly 1/5 the depth of the box.  The bottom is joined to the sides with a 3-part finger joint.  The front and rear portion of which are housed in the dados.

Cutting finger joints is no different than thru dovetails.  Less the angles of course.  Mark, saw and chop the portions on one piece and transfer to the mating piece and repeat.  I’m working in pine and wood compression is my friend.  The housed portion of the bottom added a little extra chance of screwing it up but not too much.


Up to this point I left all of the pieces the exact same width.  I think this made it much easier to keeping the joinery layout correct.  The top still needs the front trimmed back to make way for the lift out front panel and it needs a rebate at the rear to house the back panels.  The end panels need their width reduced at the rear to make way for the back panels as well.  I already trimmed the front edge of the bottom panel to make way for the skirt.  If I had made all the pieces their finished width from the start, I guarantee that I would have made a mess of the joinery.



Not a bad start if I do say so myself.  I’ll piece at it this week after work as time permits and go at it hard again next weekend.

Part 2 Greg Merritt

About Those Nubs of Yours

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 6:04pm


A fair number of tables from the Middle Ages and later appear to have a couple of extra pieces attached below the tabletop to thicken up the area where the leg tenons intersect the top. I call these “nubs” for lack of a better word, and they raise several questions.

These nubs are similar – very similar – to the battens in early stools and chairs found in Germanic cultures (I’ve also seen some in the Netherlands). Typically, these battens were attached to the seat using a sliding dovetail, they thickened the area for the joinery and they strengthened the thin seat. They strengthened the seat because the grain of the battens was 90° to the seat.

This grain arrangement is typically a Bozo No-No when it comes to wood movement, and a fair number of seats I’ve seen in Germany and American Moravian colonies have split. It’s also fair, however, to say that many have not split and even those that have split still work fine.

So are these Middle Age nubs attached with sliding dovetails? I can’t see any sliding dovetails in the paintings. Did they skip drawing the joinery? Many artists would draw in the wedged through-tenon joinery. But not the dovetails? Were they too small? Are the nubs parallel to or 90° to the grain? Again, many artists from the Middle Ages didn’t draw in the grain, so I don’t think we can answer this from paintings.

How were the nubs attached – if not by sliding dovetails? Were they simply captured between the shoulder of the leg’s tenon and the back-wedged joint above? My guess is this could work. Glue maybe? Nails? I’ve never seen any nails through the top in the paintings – though that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. They could have been driven in from the bottom – through the nubs.

Aw crap; now I’m going to dream of nubs.

— Christopher Schwarz

moravian_chairs nub4 nub3 nub2 nub1 moravian_detail
Filed under: Furniture of Necessity
Categories: Hand Tools

Hernandez y Aguado, Santos Hernandez and Antonio Torres Style Guitars

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 3:54pm
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the classical guitar finds itself at a level of quality and popularity that was unimaginable even fifty years earlier.

David Tanenbaum, Perspectives on the Classical Guitar in the Twentieth Century, 2003

Happy Memorial Day! Please make today a time of remembrance!

I did spend some time in the shop today French polishing the Torres/Santos guitar that I need to deliver to its new owner soon, and I worked on a copy of the 1961 Hernandez y Aguado guitar.

The 1961 Hernandez y Aguado guitar, seen in the foreground in the above photo, needed shellac applied to its sides. A couple of more coats of shellac and I will be able to start French polishing the sides again. I say, again, because I ended up sanding down to the wood to make sure that all the pores really were filled and get rid of some piles of pumice. The finish work you do can never be good enough!

This Hy A copy has a redwood top, the top came from a redwood board that was salvaged from a barn on the border of Yosemite National Park, and it has Indian rosewood sides and back, the sides are laminated with Alaska yellow cedar. This is a "speculation" guitar, I really made it for myself, but I will offer it for sale once it is completed.

The guitar in the background is close copy of a 1930 Santos Hernandez guitar, click here to see the plans that I followed, that also has a redwood top and Indian rosewood back and sides, both sets purchased from LMI. This guitar I am making for a young man who is in the guitar program at Metro State University, Denver.

The guitar in the foreground is a close copy of the famous FE19 guitar made by the great guitar maker, Antonio Torres. It has a bearclaw Sitka spruce top with grandillo back and sides, this is the one I have am in need of finishing soon. If you follow my blog, you know who this guitar is being made for!

All three of this guitars will be exceptional in sound, loudness and playability.
Categories: Luthiery

Laminated Stanley plane irons n more

Paul Sellers - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 1:29pm
DSC_0013The line is the laminated harder steel fused to the softer and not a secondary bevel as it appears.

I’m never sure about some things but this week I was restoring an older Stanley enjoying myself seeing the rust disappear and helping the students to see the process and the results. Everything went well and the iron was slightly bellied on the flat side and was bent near to the top so we took it to task. Over the years I have learned a few new tricks and have changed a few of my own views too. Here are some thoughts you might want to consider.

DSC_0017I slightly dished this iron to get the belly out of the way. You can also see the line of the lamination.

Firstly, and I have already said this elsewhere, plane irons need not be dead flat at all.

Secondly, they need not be replaced with any other make of iron and certainly not thicker ones.

Thirdly, if they are bellied they need not be abraded to flatness.

Fourthly, if they are hollow they are ready to go and need minimal restorative work beyond minor abrading and polishing out along the back of the cutting edge.

There, I have just saved you an hour or two’s work.

It puts an end to ruler tricks and even scary sharp flattening faces. Save the time and energy for what you love in woodworking rather than busy work.

But for this blog I wanted to say at last I have come across an obvious laminated English-made Stanley plane iron in the one I bought recently on eBay.

I am used to laminated irons in old plane irons used in wooden planes of old but it is indeed a rarity here in the UK to come across a laminated iron like the one here.

I contacted Patrick Leach at superior works and he offered this:

Stanley did make laminated irons.

I don’t know the exact time frame, but they stopped ca.
1930 (my best recollection).

The earlier ones, pre-1920, are the easiest to

Some ca.WWI, and earlier, Stanley literature notes the
laminated irons, as well as touting their superiority for
grinding/honing due to their thinner cross-section (when
compared to the standard thicker irons of the era).

Anyway, it really takes a keen edge and seems so far to last well too.

The post Laminated Stanley plane irons n more appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

What’s On The Bench – 5/25/2015

Doug Berch - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 11:03am
Yesterday I slotted two dulcimer fingerboards. The top fingerboard is zircote and the bottom is bubinga. Zircote has many of the qualities of ebony but it is lighter in weight, which in my opinion is a good thing.  Zircote also has wild, lacy figure and color streaks I find stunning. I rarely use zircote for fingerboards […]
Categories: Luthiery

Handworks 2015 the Finest Handtool Event in the Country!

Heritage School of Woodworking Blog - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 9:39am

  Well, better late than never. I started writing this post while we were at Handworks over a week ago, then the crowds started pouring in and my internet signal went south so I never finished. So here it goes…..  This past weekend was spent in Amana Iowa at one of the finest handtool events […]

The post Handworks 2015 the Finest Handtool Event in the Country! appeared first on Heritage School of Woodworking Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

All Dressed Up

The Barn on White Run - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 9:31am

photo by Narayan Nayar


Just prior to the Thursday evening reception for the Handworks exhibitors, project photographer and my Virtuoso partner in crime Narayan Nayar set up to take portraits of each of the exhibit staff with the tool cabinet.  I will post the images of the docents next week when I blog about their participation, but here is the one Narayan took of me of me.

This exhibit was the first time probably ever that I wore a dress shirt and necktie for four days in a row.  My wife said it was the biggest smile she had seen on me for many, many moons.

As for the exhibit itself, the physical manifestation was exactly as I had envisioned it almost two years earlier.  How many times does a person get to experience such a concrete realization of a dream?

It was not possible with my camera to get a true panorama of the gallery without it looking bug-eyed, so here are a group of images from which I hope you can derive the complete picture.







Teaching Spoon Making in Austin, TX

The Literary Workshop Blog - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 8:37am

This coming weekend I will be teaching a class on making wooden spoons for the ROADS Workshops in Austin, Texas.

imageIt’s going to be a little different from your usual woodworking class, though.  ROADS Workshops are a part of Mobile Loaves and Fishes, a homelessness recovery ministry. They teach recovering homeless people skills and crafts in order to help them get back on their feet financially. It’s a live-in facility with housing, gardens, and workshops.

One of the crafts they’re beginning to teach is woodworking, and they’ve asked me to come over there to hold a workshop on spoon making. Soon the students will be making spoons and other wooden items to sell in local markets.  The ROADS Workshops want to be very hand-tool focused, and they also want to use locally-sourced/scavenged materials as much as possible.  That fits in very well with my own woodworking ethos.

Most woodworking classes focus on teaching amateur woodworkers.  This class, however, will be working with people who will be working wood for a living.  So we will focus not only on tools and techniques, but also on efficiency and selling-points.

I’ll be blogging here about my spoon-making odyssey.

Tagged: Austin, MLF, ROADS Workshops, spoon carving, spoon making, wooden spoon, woodworking class

Quick shop update

McGlynn On Making - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 6:59am

When we left off our tale of the table I was trying to figure out how to make a jig to help produce the slot for the decorative ebony spline.  It’s not really a difficult problem, but I complicated matters slightly by making the top a thickness that didn’t nicely match up with the available guide bushings.  I adjusted my thinking for the jig by adding layers of veneer to make up the difference.  The jig fits over the edge of the top, and registers against the breadboard end to cut the 5″ long slot.

Jig for routing the slot for the spline

Jig for routing the slot for the spline

Once I had the design sorted out it was simple enough to cut up some MDF to build the jig.

Parts for the spline jig

Parts for the spline jig

I’ll still need to think through how I’ll make the ebony splines, but I wanted to move forward on building the breadboard ends.  Unfortunately when I started to lay out the tenons on the top I noticed that it was badly cupped.  If I wasn’t doing the breadboard ends this probably wouldn’t matter as the top attachment buttons would likely pull it flat.  But there was no way I could accurately make the tenons on the end of the top and have them fit the end caps.

Whoops, almost 1/8" gap over the 22" top width.

Whoops, almost 1/8″ gap over the 22″ top width.

After staring at this for a while I decided that part of the problem was at the joint between the two boards.  Each half was slightly cupped, but a significant amount of the cupping seemed to be at the glue joint.  So I decided to rip it apart, re-joint the edges and re-glue it…using cauls this time to keep the joint flat.

Ripping the top in half to re-joint the seam

Ripping the top in half to re-joint the seam

I make cauls out of some scrap 2×4 material, with one edge jointed dead flat.  I covered the edge with clear packing tape so I don’t accidentally glue the 2×4 to the top.  The edges are perfectly aligned and the top is flat at this point, we’ll see what it looks like once the cauls come off.  I’m going to make the end caps this morning, then take the top out of the clamps and immediately cut the tenons for the ends in case it wants to move.

Top re-glued

Top re-glued

And finally, the table base is out of the clamps.  The skirts are all tight, and the base is nice and square.  Really, just the top to finish and this table will be a wrap.

Completed base.  The inlay on the legs isn't very obvious but should really pop out once I get some finish on this.

Completed base. The inlay on the legs isn’t very obvious but should really pop out once I get some finish on this.

Categories: General Woodworking

Another Miter Jack Surfaces

Benchcrafted - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 6:44am

Last weekend at Handworks we were able to pick up another miter jack from the La Forge Royale firm. Like the jack we posted about last year, this one was also made during the Lemainque period at Forge Royale in Paris. The medallion on this version is quite different than the more typical lion-encrusted one from our other items from the company. This jack is nearly identical in every other way. A customer of ours picked this up in a Michigan antique store. Amazing.

Incidentally, we still have a few miter jack kits left, which you can order directly from our store page. We likely won't produce these again, so you might want to get one while you can, even if you don't have plans to make one in the near future.

Categories: Hand Tools

Happy Memorial Day 2015 – Thank you to those who served!

Matt's Basement Workshop - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 3:00am

3-day weekends are amazing and very welcomed, but before we fire up the grill and enjoy this extra day to be with family and friends (or in the shop considering we’re all woodworkers) let’s take the time to remember why we celebrate Memorial Day in the first place.


Please take the opportunity to thank our service members for the sacrifices they’ve made for us over the years. Regardless of which branch of service they belong to, what duties they performed or whether they’re a veteran or active duty, their sacrifices great and small are what make our world a safer place.


Categories: Hand Tools

fitting the bread boards.......

Accidental Woodworker - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 2:33am
I had a good day in the shop. I had wanted to be done with the bread boards but that didn't happen. I think I'll be able to finish them up tomorrow. I'll be glad when I finally get this done and delivered. It also will be a long time before I do anything like this again. I enjoyed making it but the self imposed deadline I didn't like. Those I can do without.

quiet time work
My cherry strips had set up overnight. This is is the only down side to hide glue - having to wait till the next day before you can play with it.

top strip flushed with the plane the bottom one with a chisel
This concluded my quiet time work while my wife was still sleeping.

the new and the old
I don't like the plywood edge on the new set showing. I tried using the extra strips I cut for filling the kerfs but they weren't wide enough. Time to visit the black hole.

this will work
I found a couple of pieces of scrap that would have worked but only enough to do one. I need the scraps to be the same size on both risers. I have a boatload of these oak cutoffs. I've had these for years waiting to find a use for them and now I have. The fact that they are round means nothing for this purpose. I like the round top as there is nothing square to catch on whatever will be resting on this.

made a shallow groove
I did this on the tablesaw and I made it deep enough just to provide a positive seat. I didn't want to nail or screw this on, I just want to rely on glue alone. I clamped this up and stuck in underneath the table to cook until tomorrow.

my working solution
This is what I came up with to work on the table top. I clamped on board at the end of the bench and that will keep the top from being pushed off the workbench. I have room to put the cauls on and not bust my knuckles nor my butt on the cabinets to the right.

my distraction
I've been thinking of this poster ever since I got back from Amana. I've been thinking of making a frame for it and having it professionally matted and poster boarded etc etc. I do have a lot of cherry scraps to pick and choose from so this may be the lead off batter when the table is done.

original tube it came in
I got this in 1995 or 1996. I know this because this tube has a Woodworker's Warehouse sticker on it and they went bankrupt in 1997. I bought this when I worked there as the assistant manager of the Westerly store (95-96). Maybe it is about time I framed it.

the plane clears the cauls
but the caul isn't pulling the bow out
now it is
I planed a bigger camber in the cauls. I read that the large size Bowclamps have a 7/16" camber in them. My cauls started out with a measly 3/16".  I can barely slip a piece of paper under the middle which is huge improvement over driving a truck underneath it.

I hate this *&^!#@$))*(^^$# when it slips
The gauge head slipped on me. So what did I do? I checked that the head was tight and ran another gauge line. Now I have three of them to pick from.

I can't catch a break today
I got the plow plane set on the gauge line on the outside and plowed a new groove. I didn't tighten down one of the fence screws and by the time I got to this end and noticed it I had over plowed my gauge lines.

a little fat
I gave up on the manual plow plane and made the tenon with a corded router and guide. I was too frustrated with the slippage and put them aside for now before I gave them flying lessons. This test groove will fit but it's very tight. This gives me some room to trim and fit the tenons and mortises to come.

cleaned up the bottom
I didn't go nutso on the bottom of the table. I did a almost nutso job on the two outside edges because they will overlap the base. They won't be seen but you will be able to feel them. The 3 center boards I scraped and smoothed out until they looked good.

used the #3 too
I wasn't going to use the #3 on the bottom but I had to wait while the branding iron heated up. I got some practice in for the opposite later on.

bottom side is done
laying out for the tenons
I am going with five tenons and a 1/2" lip/edge. I initially did a 3/8" lip/edge but I didn't like the look of it. With the bow I have in this table to take out, the extra 1/8" will help keep it straighter.

four 2" tenons and one 3" center tenon
The two inch tenons will float in over sized mortises. The center 3" tenon will be glued and pinned in an exact fit mortise.

a Wally World find
This was in the bargain aisle at my local Wally World. For less than 1/2 price it went home with me. I also bought 2 rattle cans of spray lacquer and one poly can. This is will keep the sharpie from smearing when I apply the shellac seal coat later.

protecting the underside
 I don't want to redo the bottom at all. I still have to flip this top to bottom a few more times and the blanket should keep it clean and scratch free. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this.

yes I am brain dead
I got the breadboard ends gauged and the plow plane set to them. Now the fun begins as I plane two 1/2" deep 3/8" wide grooves. Some would make the mortises first and then the do the groove. Since I have no experience doing this (my first time), I'm starting with the groove first.

something went south
I plowed my groove and it came out pretty good. Both ends showed that the groove was square and the depth was consistent end to end also. What didn't happen was the groove being centered. The left side of the center bread board is thinner than the right one. This makes this bread board toast. As in make a new one and then make the grooves with the tablesaw. Then chop all the mortises. I can use this screw for the frame for my Studley poster.

rip and crosscuts for the tenons done - removing the waste is the next batter
first crappy coping saw cut
It's been a while since I've used this and it wasn't easy. The handle on the coping saw keeps falling off. I knew I should have bought a coping saw at Handtools. Even the TSA would have been hard pressed to call that a weapon.

second half of the second cut is much better - settled into a groove here
nailed it on the opposite side
trimmed the coping saw cuts with a chisel
I was going to clean and flush these up with a rasp but I decided to try the chisel first and see how that worked. I did all of the clean up with a 3/4" chisel.

first dry fit
I trimmed all the tenons, top and bottom, with my small block plane first. After a couple of more trims, I got the bread board to seat in the mortises up to the 1/2" lip.

1/2" lip is too thick on this end
just right on the opposite end
I tried to trim the bottom lip with my tenon plane (without flipping the table) but that didn't work out. I didn't want to push this too much and plane a whacko angle in the lip. The breadboard fits on the tenons well. There aren't any signs of rubbing on them (the top that I can see) so it looks like I have to trim the underneath lip to get this to fit.

last dry fit for today
I got it partially onto the lip across the width and called it quits here. I don't want to get in a hurry and split and break something off. There is no getting around it - I'll have to flip this table so I can trim and fit the underside.

Joe McGlynn had a bow in his Blacker table top - 1/8" over 22" mine is/was about 1/8" over 38 5/16". He is making a new top. Me, I'll be busting a gut using the top I got. I don't have the time or the option to make another top nor can I plane the bow out. I would probably end up with a 5/8" or less thickness which isn't suitable for a table top.

I think I've been lucky with my table top so far. I can clamp most of the bow out with the cauls. And once I get the center tenon seated a bit I can see the remaining bow disappear. Having my bow spread out over 3' is helping me here.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to get all the bread boards done. Once I get a good dry fit, I can drill for the dowels and elongate my holes. I want to get this glued up and cooking so next week I concentrate on the finishing.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What is the largest mountain in the world?
answer - Mauna Lao in Hawaii

Makeshift Machinists

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 05/24/2015 - 10:30pm


I really believe that a machinist who likes to see things, can find more solid enjoyment in some of the rough-and-tumble jobbing shops located in the woods, than he can in some high-toned manufacturing establishments, gotten up without regard to cost. The workmen turned out by such concerns are invariably of more value than those raised in nice shops.

* * * * A new man comes along and says he worked ten years in Hotchkiss’ shop. Now, Hotchkiss has the reputation of selling the nicest shafting known to the market. You want a man to turn shafting, and, of course, you ask this new comer if he worked any on shafting in Hotchkiss’ shop. He answers truly that he never did much else. You consider yourself lucky, and set the man to work.

You soon find that he turns the worst shafting in the world, and gets out about twelve feet a day. You go for the gentleman, and ask him why he can’t do some decent work and some reasonable quantity of it. He explains, in a very condescending manner, that if you want good work you must furnish good facilities. He explains that, when at Hotchkiss’, he used a special lathe with a wonderful carriage arrangement, carrying numerous tools, and with a centering and straightening attachment, and a burring rest for finishing to size. With this rig he turned a hundred and fifty feet of nice shafting in ten hours, and says he can do it every day in the week if you will bring him the apparatus.

Now, you know all about this kind of thing. You have been in Hotchkiss’ shop, and you know this man speaks truly. But you ain’t in the shafting business, and don’t propose to go into the business. You have shafting jobs now and then, and want to do the work fair in quality and reasonable in price. You don’t expect to do it as cheap as Hotchkiss does, who makes a specialty of it.

You see at once that this man, who was all right in Hotchkiss’ shop, don’t know anything about turning shafting at all. You hunt up a boy in the other end of the shop—a long-legged, long-headed youth, who has spent two years with you learning the machinist’s trade. He knows how to turn shafting, and you know it. You put him on the long lathe, and he gives you forty feet of shafting in ten hours, and it’s forty times as good as the machinist from Hotchkiss’ shop could turn. If your long-legged boy ever gets a job in Hotchkiss’ shop, Hotchkiss will have a rough diamond capable of high polish.

* * * * You give the new man another lathe and set him to boring pulleys. He bores about three miserable holes in a day. He finds no pulley-boring machine, no good chuck drills, no reamers, no nothing. He ridicules the idea of doing work without tools. He never looks at his own deficiencies, but looks at the deficiencies of the shop. He is a nice fellow, but is not smart enough to admire the men all around him, who, every hour in the day, are doing things he can’t do at all.

* * * * You tell the new man he is a failure on a lathe. You set him to key-seating some big pulleys. They must be chipped and filed. Does he go and get good, solid side chisels dressed, and does he lay a wide, straight edge in the hole and draw one mark to chip his key-seat to; and does he sit down on a block and send three heavy, nice, clean, straight, flat cuts through the pulley; and does he file five minutes and show you a nice, clean key-seat, out of wind and free from chisel marks, all done in forty minutes?

No; he don’t. He never cut a key-seat, and never saw one cut in this way. He was brought up alongside a slotting machine, and he is now five hundred miles from the nearest slotting machine. He knows he can’t do this job, and is smart enough to tell you so. This man is no machinist at all. He served a five years’ apprenticeship, and worked eight years in one of the best shops in the United States, but he is actually of less value than your youngest cub.

You put the case to him fairly; tell him you need men and like his looks, and that if he can point out any work in the shop which he can do properly, you will be glad to keep him. He feels badly; and after looking around, decides that he can’t do what the poorest men in the shop are doing.

He will do one of two things: If he’s a coward, without any coarse grit in him, he will abandon the “machinist” trade and tramp back to Hotchkiss and beg for a job on that shafting lathe. If he has the right stuff in him, he will start in and learn the trade. He has sense and experience and don’t need to commence just like a boy. He can start anywhere he chooses, at such wages as his work shows he earns, and increase his wages as he increases his value.

* * * * You go into one of these rough-and tumble shops and watch a man at a lathe. He whistles and sings and skylarks and smokes, maybe, and does a hundred other things which the high and mighty think ought to send a man to the penitentiary. But don’t that chap do the work, though! Don’t he earn and get good wages, and don’t the proprietor make more out of him every day than the high and mighty do out of three men who were brought up to use every modern facility, and who are stumped if one of the aforesaid facilities happens to get broken.

Watch this outre machinist as he works. He runs an eighteen inch lathe, perhaps, and the work brought to him might well be, and, in a better fixed shop would be, distributed among big lathes, little lathes, Fox lathes, planers, slotters, milling machines, cutting machines, drilling machines, screw machines, bolt cutters, gear cutters, etc.

But this chap does everything which is laid by his lathe. Some he does tip-top, some he leaves slouchy, but all of it is done as well as is required. He does this all the time. He lives on it. Every job he does is something he, or anybody else, never did before, but he does it all the same. This man is no mere machine wound up and set to running a shafting-turning machine. This shop isn’t a manufacturing concern with a system adapted to a special product.

This is one of my Simon Pure machine shops, doing job work, new and old, and this fellow we see is a lordly lathesman, a real machinist. You may set him down in any shop in the world where there’s a lathe, and a job to do, and he can do it. He will jump at new and better ways, but is not helpless in the meantime. He’s no baby. He’s a machinist, and he is worth money every day.

Oh, ye puny chaps that claim to be lathesmen! You only know one way of doing things, and that’s the way you were taught to do it. You only know how to do one job, and that’s the job you worked on while you were being taught, and you can’t do that job when you get in another shop away from home. Aren’t you ashamed to ridicule a poor, one-horse machine shop when every man in it is immeasurably your superior? Aren’t you ashamed to claim fellowship and equal wages with these sharp fellows, full of mechanical wit, who do work every day which you don’t even dare to undertake? You say they can’t do it well. You can’t do it at all. You don’t know how to tackle it.

* * * * Look at the job this lathesman gets. He is sitting on a casting and handling a connecting rod strap. It’s a rough forging for a strap to hold square boxes. You can’t see a bit of lathe-work about it anywhere, or a chance for any. Pretty soon he gets his present job done. Now he puts a miserable looking angle-plate against his face-plate, and sets this strap in some shape. He fishes a dirty piece of paper out of his tool box. This paper contains a memorandum of sizes which he took down verbatim as the foreman gave them. He goes to work, and in two hours, lays two hours of planing on the floor.

He has surfaced that strap nicely and squarely all over the outside. There’s one job of “lathework” done. There is but one planer in the shop, and that is too much crowded to be doing anything that can be done in any other machine. That same planer will stand still six months in the year, so it would be folly to get another, and thus be ready for a rush which never comes when you are ready.

* * * * Here goes for the next job. Twelve stubs about two feet long, one and three-quarters diameter, to have thread cut eight inches on one end. No turning, simply a thread to be cut. They belong to a bridge bolt job, and the bolt cutter has no dies for this size. Soon this job is done. It isn’t nice lathe work. Nothing to be proud of, but it is o. k. in every way. What next? He puts on a chuck and proceeds to chase out twelve hot-pressed nuts for these bridge bolts. Ough! how your teeth grit to see a lathesman having to do such a job. It’s a nasty job, but there’s no tap that size, and soon it’s done and off this chap’s mind.

* * * * Next comes some nice lathe work; a couple of valve stems and two or three small wrists. They are finished to the sizes given and nicely polished. He gets them done, and feels proud of them. Bless him, any lathesman can do such work.

* * * * Here’s a brass casting for a two-inch stop-cock, and by it lies the old one. It’s a repair job. The old one is bursted wide open. The plug is swelled, but not broken. Does a foreman come around and instruct this man how to do this job? No, sir. His orders were to “rig up that cock.” He takes the casting, chucks it, and in half an hour has a two-inch pipe thread chased in each end. Now he chucks crosswise, and you suddenly notice that this cock must be bored tapering. How is this fellow going to bore this hole? Will he go and get a nice taper reamer? I guess not in this shop. Will he fit up some kind of a reamer? Not be. He is fitting up an old water-cock, not making new reamers.

He’ll set the head of the lathe over, won’t he? No, he won’t. The head of the lathe can’t be swiveled. Will he set the Slate taper attachment over? Guess not, as he never heard of Slate; and don’t know what a taper attachment is. Will he use the compound rest? He may some day, when such a thing gets into the shop. Will he stick a wedge under the back wing of the carriage? No. He never heard of it, and is not so deep an inventor as to think of it just when he wants it.

Will he wrap a cord around his cross-feed screw-handle and tie it to his tail-stock, and thus get the taper? No, he has no time to invent this ingenious plan. Will he find a fancy little sliding-head boring-bar somewhere? Not a bar. Has he a mandrel which he can screw his chuck on, and thus do the job in the steady rest? No, sir. He won’t do any of these smart things, and he won’t tell you that the shop ought to have a Fox lathe for such work, and he won’t tell you how the Metropolitan Cock Company bore them out, for he don’t know, and, I am sorry to add, he don’t care. All he cares about is to lay that cock down on the floor and call it done, and as well done as is needed.

He whistles a very peculiar air in a very soft manner and turns his cross crank slowly to keep time. The result is a hole which is tapering, if it’s nothing else. It would have taken him just about as long to bore it straight. He takes the job out. Puts on a face-plate, and puts the old cock plug in the lathe. He chalks it and hammers the swells out, or in, rather. Then he sets his lathe over and takes a light cut over it. Then he marks a close fit in the cock, but keeps the plug large.

Now he goes to a vise and files the hole. It was tapering all right, but the sides were not straight. He files carefully but boldly, watching the tool marks in the hole, and trying the plug. Soon he is done with the filing, and, returning to his lathe, completes the fit of the plug. Now he grinds it in, and soon there isn’t a file mark or a tool mark in the hole or on the plug.

It is simply a first-class, water-tight taper job, quickly done in a third-class manner. He screws the thing together, and bounces the next job. Time on old cock, three hours and a quarter. You or I could not do it as well or as quick with all the cock-making appliances in existence. This man never fitted up a water-cock before. He is a machinist, and will hustle out any job you will bring him, and will do it as well as you want it done, and no better.

Extracts from Chordal’s Letters

American Machinist – January 17, 1880

—Jeff Burks

Filed under: Historical Images
Categories: Hand Tools


Subscribe to Norse Woodsmith aggregator
by Dr. Radut